, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 383–386 | Cite as

From Bacteria to Bach and Back

Allen Lane, 2017, London 496 pages, ISBN-10: 0241003563
  • Simon PennyEmail author
Book Review


While Daniel Dennett’s writing always addresses big questions, the reach of From Bacteria to Bach is audacious. His goal—to explain the emergence of mind as a biological (and post-biological) phenomenon, beginning from the first principles, i.e., protolife. In this work, Dennett is to be commended for his combination of broad scholarly reach combined with readability. Dennett has no need to awe and obfuscate with neologisms or obscure terminology. A thoughtful high school student could get most of this. While humanists have sneered at his scientism, from this reviewer’s point of view, he negotiates the hoary old two-culture problem with generosity and finesse. Throughout, Dennett maintains a (qualified) posthumanist stance. He argues, quite reasonably, for human exceptionalism in terms of our mental capabilities, but human exceptionalist as he is, he is emphatically biologically materialist on the matter of mind and maintains that he is also non-dualist (more in this...


  1. The title of the hit song by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (1967)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Studio ArtUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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